Republicans in the third-most-populous county in Texas voted overwhelmingly against the removal of one of their party leaders from his post on Thursday.
The vote was not over qualifications or any misdeed by the party leader, Shahid Shafi, a surgeon and longtime Republican who was appointed vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party six months ago.
It was over whether Dr. Shafi’s Muslim faith disqualified him from the job. The vote — and the bitter clashes leading up to it — came as Democrats have been heralding the arrival of the first two Muslim women in Congress last week.
“Religious liberty won tonight,” Darl Easton, the Republican Party’s county chairman, said after Shafi was supported, 139 to 49, in Thursday’s vote. “And while that makes a great day for the Republican Party of Tarrant County, that victory also serves notice that we have much work to do unifying our party.”
Shafi, who emigrated from Pakistan 29 years ago, sailed into his role in July, with a single dissenting vote. Since then, Texas Republicans have tried to smother the brush fire lit by Dorrie O’Brien, who cast the lone vote against him and who began to agitate for his removal soon afterward.
O’Brien was one of the 269 Republican representatives eligible to vote, each one representing a voting precinct in the county. On Thursday night, those precinct captains voted in a two-and-a-half-hour executive session behind closed doors in a church.
Easton said the vote demonstrated the party’s allegiance to the Constitution and its prohibition of religious and racial discrimination.
“This vote reaffirms the commitment by a majority of Tarrant County Republicans to our core values and moral compass,” he said.
Source: The New York Times